Sunday, 30 December 2007

Carp Fishing - Winter Carp Diary Pt6

After blanking on Saturday I was in two minds about going fishing on Christmas eve. Although it rained on my previous winter carp trip and the lake had been ice free, it had remained cold. As I’d left last time, the temperatures were plummeting again with a forecast for minus two degrees on Saturday night. By time Christmas eve arrives I’ve usually had a gut full of the festive season being rammed down my throat and this year was no different. I sort of knew I was going to be in for a hard time but I went fishing anyway, a bad days carp fishing is better then the endless drivel they put on TV at Christmas!.
On the journey to the lake it rained on and off, the temperature had certainly risen and I was confident the lake would be free of ice. Just in case, I’d packed my wychwood rover lure bag as my plan b was to give the canal a go for pike for a few hours if I couldn’t fish for carp. I needn’t have worried, as I drove down the track to the lake I noticed a decent ripple on the water, there was a nice south westerly blowing across my usual swim and if it wasn’t for the fact it had been so cold recently I’d have been confident of catching.
I started with a rod on the bait at 40 yards, no extra freebies as I’d introduced bait only 36hours earlier, just a pva mesh bag containing a couple of baits and my hook bait. The second rod I placed at range towards the out of bounds area, the out of bounds was still the last area I’d actually seen a carp show so it made sense to start there as nothing had showed during Saturdays session or since I’d arrived at the lake.
It wasn’t long after settling in that the rain started, it was light and intermittent at first but by 1pm it had become heavy and persistent. Despite the rain I kept watching the water for signs of fish, every now and again I’d stand out in it to check the whole of the lake but the rest of the time I spent viewing one half of the lake from the comfort of my brolly. Nothing showed, 1pm became 2pm and still nothing moved, the cold weather of the last few weeks really had taken its toll, on top of nothing showing, the wind had died off when the rain had become more persistent so I was once again left looking at a flat calm lake. I really wanted the wind to keep blowing as the carp in this lake respond well when there’s a decent blow on. Unfortunately, once the wind died it never came back.
The afternoon wore on and it was just after 4pm when a single carp poked its nose out of the water, the carp was a long way out, certainly beyond my casting range but at least I was on the right track as the fish were obviously still over in the out of bounds area of the lake. That single carp showing was the only thing that happened all day and I had to make do with being pleased to actually see a fish show. If nothing else, it at least showed that they were stirring again after our recent cold weather and my plan was to get back down to the lake two days later and try for a boxing day carp.
I packed up at 4.30pm, it hadn’t stopped raining all afternoon and by time my fishing gear was back in the car I was soaked. It wasn’t exactly the Christmas eve session I was hoping for but at least I had an idea the carp where still over in the out of bounds area. I opted to leave the spodding this time round, I was coming back to the lake within 48 hours so I just put a few pellets and some peparami in via the catapult then hurried back to the car as quickly as I could in the pouring rain.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Carp Fishing - Winter Carp Diary Pt5

The weather had been ice cold all week and most waters were frozen over. I had a feeling my winter carp fishing wasn’t going to happen this week so I sat down in front of the PC on Friday evening and made my backup plan.
I always have a backup plan when the weather is icy. If my carp lake happens to be frozen over there are always other species of fish to target in other waters. Rivers don’t freeze so species such as chub, grayling, perch and pike are all viable options even in the coldest of conditions. Even the canal can be free of ice when my chosen winter carp lake is frozen over so there is always plenty of choice no matter how cold it gets.
My usual 'alternative' target is winter pike and in years gone by I’d visit either the river severn or the river dee if I couldn’t get my rods out for winter carp. I know a few stretches on both rivers that respond very well to wobbled deadbaits, even in the very coldest of conditions. However, you can’t keep fishing the same places all the time. Sure, you put yourself in with a great chance of catching if you fish known holding areas you’ve caught well from in the past but if you stick to the same venues and swims year in year out I think you stagnate as an angler and I prefer to keep moving, trying new venues and finding new productive areas. With new venues in mind, I sat at the PC on Friday evening with google earth open on the computer and my sat nav positioned next to the monitor. I was looking at the Shropshire union canal in particular and I used google earth to locate as many access points to the canal as possible, once I found a road that either crossed the canal or passed close by, I used the ‘navigate to point on map’ function on my sat nav to store it for future reference. The plan was to head down to the lake and break up as much ice as I possibly could in order to give the wind a chance at clearing the lake. I was doing this because I was due on again on Christmas eve and if I couldn’t fish on Saturday due to the ice I definitely wanted my lines in the water on Monday!.
Once I’d done as much as I could at the lake I was going to drop into daves of middlewich then visit the canal to see if I could find any pike or perch with a small plug or spinner. This year I was dropping my favoured method of wobbling a dead smelt, it had been a particularly productive method for catching pike in the past but at the cost of smelling everything out. My clothes, the car, my fishing gear, everything stinks of dead fish after a days pike fishing so this year I’d invested in a wychwood rover lure bag into which I’d placed a few of my favourite lures. If the lake wasn’t fishable I could wander up and down the canal searching any potential holding areas with my small selection of lures.
With my plans for the Shropshire union canal in place I was going to be fishing no matter what happened, on Saturday morning I packed my carp gear as usual only this time I packed my lure bag as well. The journey to the lake was uneventful, there didn’t appear to be much frost around and I got quite a surprise when I made my way down the track to the lake. It was flat calm and at first I assumed it was frozen. Out of the corner of my eye I clocked a duck paddling its way across the lake. That didn’t look right?. I looked again and sure enough the water was ice free. I parked the car and went for a closer look, I couldn’t even find any sign of cat ice in the margins, the lake was completely ice free.
Straight away I forgot about the pike, the lure fishing could stay as a backup plan until next time it’s icy. I unloaded my gear from the car and made my way to my usual swim. I left the gear and went for a walk round to see if I could spot any carp, nothing showed so I headed back to my swim and picked up where I left off in winter carp diary pt4. I’d scraped a double to save a blank last week and I decided to start in the same place. The fish had been stacked up in an out of bounds area last time so I opted for one rod as far towards this area as I could and the other rod I placed ‘on the bait’ at a range of about 40 yards (area a if you look at my previous entries), both rods were baited with pellet and fished with a pva mesh bag of the same.
Once the rods were out and the rest of my gear was neatly arranged I settled down to watch the water, if anything showed I wanted to get a bait on it straight away. The day passed by without anything happening. The cold weather had obviously had an effect on the carp, I can’t ever remember a whole day passing without seeing a carp on this particular water, in the past I’ve even watched the fish rolling in a small hole in the ice out in the middle of the lake but today they were well and truly hidden away. I did move the rods around late afternoon in order to try different spots that had been productive in the past but I run out of both luck and time and the shortest day of the year became my first blank of the winter.
Usually, I don’t cut back on the bait I put in at the end of each session but as I was going to be back at the lake within 48hrs, I opted to put in just a quarter of the bait I’d usually use. A quarter of the bait took a quarter of the time and I finished my spodding quickly and packed up.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Carp Fishing - Winter Carp Diary Pt4

After several days of low temperatures and a particularly hard frost on Thursday night I was in two minds about my carp fishing this week. As well as the possibility of the lake being frozen over there was talk of fuel protests as well and I imagined a ‘go slow’ on all the main roads and wondered if it would effect my fishing trip.
After a cloudy night and no apparent frost on Saturday morning I decided to make the trip. The first thing into the car was the sat nav, if I had to turn off a main road because of a go slow, the sat nav would plot me a new course to the lake and I figured I could avoid any potential trouble.
As it turned out, the roads were clear and as I headed south through ellesmere port on the motorway, a quick glimpse at the Shropshire union canal in the backford area revealed it to be ice free. As I pulled into the car park at the lake, I was relieved to see no ice to be found on the lake either. I was half expecting it to be frozen or maybe part frozen but fortunately neither was the case.

I unloaded my carp gear in the car park whilst watching the water for signs of fish. The first thing I noticed was that I’d left my skeetex thermal boots at home. This was a disaster for me in more ways than one. My peg was partially flooded and I needed my boots on in order to get to the front of my swim, without them, the bushes either side of my swim were restricting my casting. Moving was the obvious option but I decided to stay put as the swim gave easy access to my prebaited winter hotspot. Apart from restricting me round my half flooded out swim, I was in for a cold day and I knew my feet would be like ice blocks before the day was out. I decided to sit it out though, I’d driven a long way and I wasn’t going home just because my feet were going to get cold!.

I got myself set up and comfortable, once everything was sorted, I tied a few pva mesh bags of pellets and hair rigged a pellet on each rod. One went straight onto the prebaited winter hotspot and the other I put into area b on the swim diagram.

Winter carp swim diagram

Despite it being flat calm it was obvious the prolonged cold weather had made a big impact on the carp compared to the previous week. I watched patiently waiting for a fish to crash or roll but nothing did and my usual good start of banking a fish in the first hour or so was gone. I continued to scan the lake looking for signs of fish and at just before 1pm a carp rolled over the far side. The far bank is an out of bounds area, its out of casting range and out of reach from every peg on the lake so even a move wouldn’t have put me on that rolling carp. Having seen one fish over there I focussed on that area and sure enough, I witnessed another 3 carp shows in the next hour.
The best I could do to get near the fish was to change my 2oz inline leads for a 3oz distance lead fished on a safety clip. I kept the two bait pva bag to help avoid tangles, I would have to sacrifice a few yards but I needed to know my rig was sitting right and the pva mesh bag helped achieve this. I’d never cast these new tfg rods any great distance before, they’d only been used up to 90yds maximum and I really needed the yards to give me any chance of catching today. I couldn’t help wishing I’d had my infinity x rods with me but having opted to leave them at home the new tfg’s would have to do. I’m pleased to say the tfg’s did ok, there was always a piece of me holding back because they were new rods but I comfortably made over 100yds with a 3oz lead and a two bait pva mesh bag. This was still short of where the carp had all rolled in the previous hour but at least it put me a lot nearer to them and there was always a chance the fish could move towards me in the few hours I had left.
Happy I’d done just about all I could to get near the carp I sat and waited for a bite. I spotted a couple more carp roll in the next hour, each time in the same place and it looked like they just weren’t going to move this time. With nothing to show for my efforts by 3.15pm I’d resigned myself to a blank, I looked around my swim for bits of my fishing gear I could start packing away before I got the spod out at 4pm. I’d already begun to tidy away my gear when out of the blue the left hand delkim bleeped a couple of times then went into a slow but steady run, I watched the monkey climber pull to the top of the needle as I was going for the rod and as I bent down to pick it up, the baitrunner started clicking away slowly. I swept the rod back and it arched over nicely. The carp was quite a way out and there was very little fight from the fish on the way in. Once into the margins the fish put up a bit more of a fight but I was always in control of the situation and after a few minutes plodding round under the rod tip I slipped the net under a nice looking common. It was a small, fat fish but it was very clean and in excellent condition. The scales gave me a weight of 13lb 10oz, not a massive fish by any means but it saved a blank on a freezing cold December day.

Blank saver, this 13lb 10oz north west winter carp was the only action this week.

With a spare pva mesh bag already tied and waiting, I put the rod back out to the same area in the hope I might repeat my good fortune then continued to tidy away the rest of my fishing gear. At 4pm I got the spod out and began spodding in my mixture of hemp, maize and peparami. I left the rods out whilst I got on with the job of spodding After all, I was fishing at least 100+yds out and the area I was spodding to was only 30-40 yds so it made sense to keep them out there just in case. Alas no more action came my way and when I’d finished with the hemp, maize and peparami, I put some pellets out with the catapult then pulled the rods in and headed for home before my feet got any colder!.

For the previous few weeks the carp fishing on my winter water had been good, the carp have still been very active but these past few days of cold weather really seem to have taken their toll. I felt like I’d got out of jail catching that common and from now on, I think the fishing might get a bit harder. A slowdown in the action is always expected at this time of year and I now feel my winter carp fishing is well and truly under way.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Carp Fishing - Winter Carp Diary Pt3

I was up earlier than usual on Saturday morning as I was selling off my 3 greys prodigy carp rods, the sat nav made my early morning meeting very easy and once the deal was done I plotted a course for the lake and headed south down the M6. The journey was uneventful and if anything a little slow due to the weather. I knew it was going to be quite bad and on the way to the lake I questioned my sanity for going carp fishing in such foul conditions. The rain was heavy and persistent and it was accompanied by a cold wind, despite last weeks success, I wasn’t too confident of catching a carp this week but you have to be in it to win it as they say.
I pulled into the car park and looked at the lake. Once again I was the only angler there. With the rain being so heavy, I got myself into my igloo 3 and my skeetex boots in double quick time and headed off to my swim. Short session winter carping usually means the rods are first out but on this occasion I opted to get the brolly out and store my gear first, there wasn’t any point in me or my gear getting soaked and sorting out a couple of pva mesh bags for each rod required being dry!. Despite the foul conditions I was able to make myself really comfortable. For once, the wind was blowing over my head so I was able to set up the brolly with a great view of the lake.

Winter Swim Diagram.

The picture above is a diagram of my swim, there are no features, it's just silt silt and more silt with an even depth of 6ft virtually all over. My prebaited spot is 30-40yds out in front of me (A), I’ve picked up carp from the nice clear area (B) by just fishing stringers or small pva mesh bags, this spot is around 80yds out. From the start of my winter carp fishing this year I’ve noticed fish showing off to my left (C), this spot is also around 70-80yds out. Usually, I start with a pva stringer on areas A and B but with a really cold wind blowing down the lake from left to right I opted to start with a rod on my prebaited spot and a rod off to the left on area C as this was off the back of the cold wind. I dropped my first rod onto the prebaited spot, a gentle lob saw the rig land perfectly. This week I started with peparami instead of my usual pellet hook bait, I’ve been mixing peparami in with my hemp and maize when spodding so I figured I’d give it a go today. I was just about to cast the second rod off to the left when I heard a carp crash. I couldn’t have been any further away from the fish!. The carp crashed off to my right, way off to the right of area B and about 90+yds out. I guess it was just instinct but with the rod in hand and a pva mesh bag already on and ready to cast, I quickly re-adjusted my feet, lined myself up then whacked the baited rig straight at the crashing carp. My luck was in, I’m not used to these new tfg x series carp rods yet but the timing of the cast was good and the rig flew out to the area and landed perfectly. If anything it may have been a few yards short but it was certainly very close to where the carp crashed out and I was happy to leave it there.
With the rods out I headed for the cover of the brolly, a quick check of the watch and it was 11.15am, I’d made good time and hadn’t lost any fishing time despite my prodigy carp rod deal earlier in the morning. I grabbed a brew from the flask and sat back to watch the water. It was bleak but with the wind over my head and some trees for cover I was actually more comfortable than usual as I generally sit with a westerly wind blowing straight in my face. Once I was settled in the rain actually eased off and after 10 minutes or so it pretty much stopped. I’d just finished eating a chocolate biscuit when the right hand monkey climber rose steadily to the top of the needle, the rod tip whipped round and the delkim warbled it's distinctive tune, I was on it straight away, a soft strike saw my new rod hoop over again and I was into my first carp of the day. The bait had been out for 25 minutes and after a short 5 minute fight I slipped the net under a small common that I weighed in at 11lb 4oz. It wasn’t a massive fish but on such a foul day it made my journey worthwhile. Besides, a carp before midday usually means a multiple catch, it was 11.45am and I still had another 4 hours to fish before I started my weekly spodding.

Another north west winter Carp 11lb 4oz

I covered the same area again when I recast but the next carp I saw show was even further off to the right, it was obvious the carp were on the wind despite it being cold so I pulled the other rod off my prebaited spot and cast that one into the same area the carp rolled. Despite covering showing fish nothing much happened for the rest of the afternoon, the rain kept coming and going and I kept watching the water but nothing much gave itself away. I was getting increasingly restless and with nothing showing I was wondering if the carp had moved. I was still pondering my winter carp location when a fish came clean out of the water right on top of my prebaited area!. That was it, I had both rods in and re-baited with a fresh pva mesh bags in double quick time, one rod went right on the bait and one just off to the side of it. The rod off to the side of a baited area often produces fish for me and quite often the bigger specimens. It’s a good tactic to employ and despite it being the 8th December, I was still happy to use the tactic to try and get myself a bigger fish. I retired to the cover of my brolly once again and waited. It had gone quiet again so I grabbed another brew and opened a bag of crisps only to drop them when the rod on the prebaited area rattled off. I was in again and hooking the fish closer to the bank certainly gave me a bit more control than usual. The carp kited left and eventually came into the margins under steady pressure, it felt bigger than the low double earlier in the day and this proved to be the case when I eventually slipped the net under another common that turned the scales to 16lb 6oz.

First winter carp off my prebaited area at 16lb 6oz.

I sorted a couple of photos and got the rig back out as soon as possible. If the carp were on the bait, there was a chance of another fish in the half hour I had left before I needed to start spodding at 4pm. I was right about the other chance, just 5 minutes after the recast the same rod was away again, another decent scrap in the margins saw another common roll into the net, another double that weighed 13lb 8oz.

A 13lb 8 oz common carp off my prebaited winter hotspot.

3 double figure carp was enough for me, on a foul day when most north west carp anglers would rather go Christmas shopping, I’d had another good result. I fished on until 4pm with no further action. I left the rods out whilst I got to work with the spod. It was just about dark when I’d finished my weekly winter prebaiting, the usual mixture of hemp, maize, pellets and peparami all went in and when I’d finished, I packed the rest of my gear and headed off home a happy carp angler again. The 3 carp all fell to the green peparami fished with a couple of pieces in a pva mesh bag. I was pleased to catch a couple of late fish off the area I’ve been prebaiting, it’s just the encouragement I need to keep with my winter baiting plan and I’ll be back next weekend for another go.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Carp Fishing - Winter Carp Diary Pt2

On Friday night I made sure all my fishing gear was in order and ready to go. I checked my pva mesh and my foam nuggets to make sure I had enough then I sorted out my bait, I had another bucket full of hemp and maize ready to go in the lake, I replenished my pellet bucket and grabbed another ‘bunch of fives’ bulk pack of peparami out of the fridge to go with the rest of the bait.
With my gear sorted out I was ready to leave for the lake by 9.30am on Saturday morning, I set the sat nav and departed on a journey that took a little over an hour. I pulled up at the lake a little after 10.30am and quickly unloaded my carp gear from the car and headed for the same swim I was in last week. Once again the lake was empty of anglers, there was just me and the resident robin who was straight on the case begging for bait as soon as I got there, he even had the cheek to perch himself on my chair whilst I was busy setting up my new carp rods. Earlier in the week I’d taken delivery of three new carp rods. After trying a mates, I’d decided to buy 3 tfg x-series rods. The model I went for was the tfg x3 model in 12ft 3.5lb test curve, word on the grapevine was that these rods were built on the same blank as the free spirit ‘s’ series rods that cost nearly £200 each. The tfg label obviously isn’t fashionable with carp anglers because I picked up my 3 new rods for less than the cost of one free spirit rod!.

Winter Robin sat on my new rods waiting to be fed.

I quickly went about setting up, the forecast was for squally showers and I wanted to be set up and sorted out before any rain came my way. I dropped my first rig over the area I’d baited heavily with the spod the previous week, my usual two bait pva mesh bag was attached to the rig before casting and luckily for me the rig dropped in the right place first time. I was happy with the feel of my new rods and having cast the first one out I set about doing the second rod. Another pva mesh bag was attached, same as the first rod. This particular rig was destined for a hotspot much further out, a nice clean area about 80 yards out that had been productive for me in previous years, the new rod coped easily and despite casting into a strong side wind the rig and pva mesh bag landed in exactly the area I wanted.
With the rods out and the monkey climbers set I glanced up at the lake, a carp crashed about 20 yards behind my baited area. I looked at it but decided not to recast, I figured if the carp where that close to the bait they would come onto it sometime in the next few hours so I left it. I was just about to turn round and get my remote receiver out of my rucksack and turn my delkims on when I heard one of the spools on my reels ticking away, it threw me for a second as I thought it was the rod on the baited spot, I turned round to find the roving rod fished 80 yards out was going into meltdown!. I grabbed the new rod and swept it back slowly, sure enough the rod took on a nice curve and the first carp on my new carp rods was on. It wasn’t much of a battle, the carp kited to my right but steady pressure brought it ever closer and after a short fight in the margins I netted a nice common weighing 15lb 14oz. I looked at my watch and it was 11.15am, I’ve always christened new fishing gear quickly, 60 seconds from casting in to getting a run might not be the fastest run I’ve ever had but it was my new record for christening a fishing rod!.

Gone in 60 seconds, a 15lb 14oz December Common to christen my new rods!

My first carp of the day had caught me on the hop, I was literally about to turn on the delkims before tidying my gear and making sure I was comfortable for the day. Once the weighing, photographing and returning of the carp was done I recast the rod back to the same area and this time I managed to get the rods set and the delkims and receiver switched on. I tidied my peg and sat down to watch the water. If you’ve ever done any winter carp fishing before, you’ll know how hot it can get wearing a thermal suit, my igloo3 is great when your sitting down but when you have to move about in it for any length of time you end up roasting hot and that’s exactly what I was like when I finally managed to sit down.

After half an hour of sitting down in that brisk wind I was just starting to feel cool again, I reached into the pocket of my igloo3 to get my thermal hat but before I could pull it out of the pocket the same rod was away again only this time it was accompanied by the unmistakeable warble of a delkim that was coming from the receiver in my pocket!. I forgot about the hat and hit the rod, again the rod went over and again I had another uneventful fight on the way in, once in the margins this carp did fight a little harder than the last one but the carp was always fighting a loosing battle and after a few minutes I slipped the net under my second fish of the day, this one turned out to be a mirror and it weighed in at 15lb 4oz, another mid double and it wasn’t even midday!.

15lb 4oz Winter Mirror made it two carp within an hour.

The wind was pretty strong at this point, I recast the rod with another pva mesh bag on then went about setting up the brolly. It looked like the forecast showers were fast approaching and I didn’t want to get wet!. Once I was settled down I couldn’t see much of the water, I spent the next hour or two dodging the rain when it came and standing by the rods watching the water when it had stopped. Funnily enough, every time I sat out of the rain it seemed the sun was shining too, don’t you just love the british weather!.
Nothing else occurred for a hour or two, I grabbed a bite to eat and a cup of coffee and continued to watch the water. It was nearly 2pm when I noticed a carp show off to the left, this was in the area I’d picked up two fish last week. I continued looking for a minute or two longer and sure enough the fish showed again. That was it, I pulled the rod off the baited area and dropped the rig on the rolling fish. The first cast landed right on the money and with the indicator set I stood next to the rods expecting a run straight away. That run didn’t come for a few minutes, I was just beginning to think I must have spooked the fish when the monkey climber dropped an inch and the remote let out a couple of bleeps. I looked at the rod wondering if a carp had got away with it when it twitched slightly, just a gentle pull of maybe an inch which was again accompanied by a couple of bleeps from the remote. That was enough for me and I picked up the rod and hit it, sure enough there was a carp on at the other end and after another short fight I slipped the net under my smallest carp of the winter so far, a common which weighed in at 11lb 12oz.

Smallest Carp of the Winter so far 11lb 12oz.

I recast the rig to the same area hoping there would still be one or two more fish around, the next hour and a half passed by uneventfully, it was just more water watching for me as I tried to locate the fish and pin down some new productive spots. During the afternoon I trickled pellets onto my baited spot. I wasn’t actually fishing the area as both rods had ended up as rovers with the small pva mesh bags cast to rolling carp. Despite this, I still wanted the carp to come to one spot when they were hungry and to this end I continued to bait the area despite not having a rod there. I was actually just thinking of moving the left hand rod back onto the bait when the rod tip pulled round again. By this time I was liking my new rods, they had real backbone for casting and playing fish on them was no trouble at all, although having a 3.5lb test curve they were quite forgiving close in and I had no problems leading in my fourth double of the day, another common that turned the scales to 14lb 10oz.

My 4th double of the day, a 14lb 10oz Common.

Time was moving on, it was 3.30pm when I returned the fourth fish and I had just half an hour left before I needed to start spodding in this weeks helping of bait. No other runs came my way in that half hour and despite leaving the rods out whilst I spodded in my mixture of hemp, maize, peparami and pellets, I didn’t manage another run. The spodding took a while and it was just about dark when I finished the last of the bucket. I know carp have been onto the bait I’ve spodded in, I saw a fish show right over the area during the afternoon and I’m sure they must have had it all off during the week.
This weeks session turned out to be a good one for me, four doubles in December is what I consider a right result for any north west carp angler, I christened both of my new x3 carp rods along the way and I packed up my fishing gear and headed for home a happy winter carp angler.

Tight Lines

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